Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands and a good-time city known for welcoming tourists, slapped a new tax on cruise passengers Jan. 1. Cruise companies aren't happy about it.
In fact, MSC Cruises was so unhappy that it canceled future stops and replaced Amsterdam with nearby Rotterdam on its port stop schedules.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages, a British line, also said it will replace most of its scheduled Amsterdam port stops.
Several other companies are assessing the situation, according to Martyn Griffiths, director of public affairs for Cruise Lines International Assn. Europe.
"It is still a very new situation," Griffiths said last Friday. "Authorities are currently working to implement it and charge the lines, but the process is still unclear today."
The new $9.12 fee applies to transit passengers and is to be charged per 24-hour period.
CLIA issued a statement in late December saying its "members are disappointed."
The statement went on to say that the new tax "means that cruise passengers visiting Amsterdam, who already pay a significant amount in port fees and other tariffs, will have to pay (an additional tax) whilst other day tourists, who arrive in Amsterdam by train, bus or car, would not have to pay a day tourist tax and do not also pay port or other fees."
The organization also said transit cruise passengers represent only 1% of the total tourist traffic in Amsterdam and argued that "the contribution of cruise passengers is extremely disproportionate."
CLIA's statement also criticized the short implementation time for the tax — two months — saying: "There is a real risk of call cancellations, which could result in a budget deficit of several million euros for the city of Amsterdam as a result of reduced fees collected by the Port of Amsterdam."
The Municipality of Amsterdam's website said the increased tax is in response to heavy demands on the city and its public spaces, as a result of large numbers of tourists.